The value of Israel’s contribution in Haiti

There is a well-known comment in Judaism. Saving a life is comparable to saving a world.

Israel has a track record of sending teams to the world’s crises spots; earthquakes in Turkey, helping tsunami victims in Sri Lanka and Thailand, responding to the trauma of terror in Mumbai to name but a few case studies.

It is 8 days, since the tragic earthquake in Haiti. Of the 121 people rescued to date by overseas teams, several were dug out by Israeli crews.

The Israeli field hospital was the first to be established, 48 hours before the Yanks. By early Wednesday, it had treated 367 patients.  7 babies had been delivered and 104 surgeries performed.

The hospital is staffed by around 120 military and civilian personnel, several of them from Sha’arei Zedek hospital in Jerusalem. Like many in Israel, the hospital has a long history of helping external communities, including several programmes with Palestinians.

Add in at least US$2 million of other aid, and it does not take much to realise how essential the Israeli role has been in Haiti, even at this early stage. The BBC, CNN, and SKY are among several of the leading networks to comment on this extraordinary effort. And Bill Clinton dropped in on the Israeli command centre shortly after arriving on the island.

One way to put this task force in some comparison is to look at the equivalent input from Israel’s frequent detractors. So far, there is no other team from the Middle East in Haiti. China has around 60 people on the island. Norway is operating through the Red Cross. (Last month, Norway’s Foreign Minister, Store, endorsed a book by doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse. who accused Israeli troops of deliberately hunting down children to kill in Gaza.)

Meanwhile, in the UK, campaigners are continuing to call for a ban on the sale of Israeli products. In Haitian terms, that segregationist policy has the equivalent value of several hundred lives.

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